School Suspensions and permanent Exclusion (May 2023)
What does suspensions and exclusion mean?
Suspension refers to a fixed term when a pupil is not allowed to attend school for a period of time, due to a serious breach of school rules. Exclusions, now refers to a permanent exclusion from a school, where a pupil can no longer attend that particular school.
Types of exclusion/suspension
A suspension, fixed term means that a pupil is not allowed to attend school for a specified number of days or for part of the school day, such as lunch times. A pupil may be suspended for one or more fixed periods of time, up to a maximum of 45 school days in an academic year.
A permanent exclusion is the most serious sanction a school can give when a pupil does something that is against the schools behaviour policy and should be used as a last resort. It means that the child can no longer attend the school they have been permanent excluded from.
Permanent exclusion should only happen in response to –
- a serious breach or persistent breaches of the school’s behaviour
- where allowing the pupil to remain in school would seriously harm the education or welfare of the pupil or others in the school
If a school sends a pupil home to “cool off”, even if parents are in agreement, this is an exclusion and the school have a responsibility to record it as an exclusion. When these types of exclusions are not recorded they are unlawful. These may also be referred to as an unofficial or informal exclusion.
It would also be unlawful to exclude a pupil simply because they have SEN or a disability that the school feels it is unable to meet, or for a reason such as, academic attainment/ability; or the failure of a pupil to meet specific conditions before they are reinstated, such as to attend a reintegration meeting. It would also not be appropriate to exercise undue influence over a parent to remove their child from the school under the threat of a permanent exclusion and encouraging them to choose Elective Home Education or to find another school place.
If any of these unlawful exclusions are carried out and lead to the deletion of a pupil’s name from the register, this is known as ‘off-rolling’.
Education during a suspension or exclusion
For a suspension of more than five school days, the governing board (or local authority about a pupil suspended from a PRU) must arrange suitable full-time education for any pupil of compulsory school age.
For permanent exclusions, the local authority must arrange suitable full-time education for the pupil to begin from the sixth school day after the first day the permanent exclusion took place.
If alternative education has not been arranged from the 6th day, or a parent is not happy with the education identified, we recommend that they contact the school (for fixed period suspensions), or the Education Inclusion Service (for permanent exclusions) and if the child or young person has an EHCP the SEND team.
Schools should support pupils to reintegrate successfully into school life and full-time education following a suspension or period of off-site direction.
The reintegration strategy should be clearly communicated at a reintegration meeting before or at the beginning of the pupil’s return to school. During a reintegration meeting, the school should communicate to the pupil that they are valued, and their previous behaviour should not be seen as an obstacle to future success. Where possible this meeting should include the pupil’s parents. However, it is important to
note that a pupil should not be prevented from returning to a mainstream classroom if parents are unable or unwilling to attend a reintegration meeting.
Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND) and suspensions
The Equality Act 2010 requires schools to make reasonable adjustments for disabled pupils. This duty can, in principle, applies both to the suspensions and permanent exclusions process and to the disciplinary sanctions imposed. Under the Children and Families Act 2014, governing boards of relevant settings, must use their ‘best endeavours’ to ensure the appropriate special educational provision is made for
pupils with SEND, which will include any support in relation to behaviour management that they need because of their SEND.
The head teacher, as far as possible should avoid excluding a child with an EHCP and a school should request an early Annual Review or Interim Review. Pupils with SEND but without an EHC plan, the school should review, with external specialists as appropriate, whether the current support arrangements are appropriate and what changes may be required.
Schools have a duty under the Equality Act 2010 not to discriminate against pupils on the basis of protected characteristics, such as disability.
The school must also have regard for the SEND Code of Practice, (statutory guidance for those working with children and young people with SEND).
Governing body responsibilities
Governing boards have a key responsibility in considering whether excluded pupils should be reinstated. This forms part of their wider role to hold executive leaders to account for the lawful use of exclusion, in line with the duties set out in law, including equalities duties.
. The governing board must consider and decide on the reinstatement of a suspended
or permanently excluded pupil within 15 school days of receiving notice of a
suspension or permanent exclusion from the headteacher if:
- it is a permanent exclusion;
- it is a suspension which would bring the pupil’s total number of school days out of
school to more than 15 in a term; or
- it would result in the pupil missing a public examination or national curriculum test
The requirements are different for suspensions where a pupil would be suspended for more than five but less than 16 school days in a term. In this case, if the parents make representations, the governing board must consider and decide within 50 school days of receiving the notice of suspension whether the suspended pupil should be reinstated. In the absence of any representations from the parents, the governing board is not required to meet and cannot direct the reinstatement of the pupil.
Where the governing body are legally required to consider reinstating a pupil, they must share their decision in writing with parents, the head teacher and the local authority, without delay.
If the exclusion is for less than 5 days, parents can request a meeting with the governors however, the decision to hold a meeting is at their discretion and they do not have the authority to reinstate the pupil into school in this circumstance.
Right to independent review
If the governors uphold the schools decision to permanently exclude a pupil, parents have the right to request an independent review of the exclusion. This meeting is known as an Independent Review Panel (IRP) and will review the decision of the governing body.
The legal time frame for an application is:
- within 15 school days of notice being given to the parents by the governing board
of its decision not to reinstate a permanently excluded pupil
The local authority/academy trust must take reasonable steps to identify a date for the review that all parties, and any SEN expert appointed to give advice in person. Parents are able to request a SEN expert as part of the IRP.
If a pupil is excluded and parents don’t want to challenge the exclusion but are not happy with the way the school handled it, they can follow the normal school complaints process which can be found by contacting the school or looking on the school’s website.
Where can I get more information, advice or support?
You can read the statutory guidance relating to exclusions.
You can also contact SENDIASS who can offer you:
- information about the exclusion process
- advice and support if your child has been excluded
The information included on this page is taken from the following sources: